Tuesday, May 13, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, West Virigina votes today, the Congress loves veterans . . . as long as they don't expect what's been promised, and more.
Starting with war resistance. The May 2nd snapshot noted war resister Ryan Jackson who turned himself in and was waiting to find out what was next. Courage to Resist reports: "War objector Army PFC Ryan Jackson was temporarily moved from his brig cell yesterday and arraigned at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Ryan was formally changed with multiple counts of AWOL stemming from his attempt to be released from the Army prior to Iraq deployment. He is scheduled to face a special court martial--with a maximum one year prison sentence--on Tuesday, June 3. Since voluntarily returning to Fort Gordon on April 14 and formally applying for a conscientious objector discharge, Ryan has been held in pre-trial confinement at the Charleston Navel Brig. Write to Ryan | Donate to Ryan's defense | Attend Ryan's court martial."
That's the US, in Canada, war resisters are hoping the Parliament will take action on a motion waiting to be debated. Currently, you can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
In an editorial, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin observes, "The Bush administration has been lowballing the cost of the war in Iraq since it began more than five years ago, and the true surge will not be known for decades. Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate that the cost of care for disabled veterans will more than double today's exependitures. That may be erring on the low side but still is intolerable. The government now spends $29 billion a year in compensation to injured warriors, including those from previous wars, but that figure is expected to reach $59 billion in 25 years." Jennifer C. Kerr (AP) noted Sunday, "Increasing numbers of U.S. troops have left the military with damaged bodies and minds, a pool of disabled veterans that will cost the nation billions of dollars for decades. . . . VA officials were not eager to talk about reasons for the increases. They declined several requests for interviews. In a written response to a handful of questions, the agency noted a few factors at play in rising costs, such as the aging veteran population, an increase in the number of disability claims and the severity of injuries suffered. Outside experts provided more insight." A Los Angeles Times' editorial entitled "War wounds we don't see" notes: "The cost of treating brain injuries in 2007 ranged from $26,000 for mild cases to $409,000 for severe ones. The survey estimated that costs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in the first two years after deployment are as high as $6 billion. Pain, heartache and blighted young lives, of course, are incalculable."
Dropping back to the May 9th snapshot: "Today Paul Kane (Washington Post) reports that
'Blue Dog Democrats' are in opposition to a House measure specifically because of 'the creation of a program that would guarantee veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a year of in-state college tuition for each year served in the war zones'." Rick Maze (Army Times) examines the threat to the bill and quotes American Legion's national commander Mart Conaster explaining AL had to fight "in 19944 for the orginal" GI Bill "even some veterans' groups complained that it would break the treasury. Instead, the GI Bill transformed the economy and has been widely hailed as the greatest domestic legislation Congress has ever passed." John Young (Waco Tribune) observes, "It's only when people return from battle that we become sticklers for decimal points" and goes on to point out that what has the Pentagon and Senator John McCain upset isn't the cost apparently but the fact that education benefits would be available after three and not six years (and that six wasn't required for the original GI Bill). From the April 17th snapshot: "Thomas L. Bush is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secreteary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at DoD. Last month he was telling the press that increasing education benefits for service members will increase 'the risk that many who enter for the benefits will leave as soon as they can use them.' Yesterday he repeated his assertion that DoD 'does not believe that the basic structure of the Montgomery GI Bill is broken'."
The Pentagon's head, Sec of Defense Robert Gates, treked it over to Colorado Springs, CO today to participate in a conservative 'think'-tank's day of seminars. The 'think'-tank is the Heritage Foundation and Gates didn't speak on the "Green Gone Wild: Elevating Nature ABove Human Rights" panel but tax payers have every right to ask exactly what he was doing promoting a private organization's day of seminars to begin with? Josh White (Washington Post) explains the big take-away: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today implored the U.S. military to focus more on wars against insurgents and militias such as the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than focusing time and money on potential conflicts." That's nothing new and was the point of the April 17th House Armed Service Committee's Strategic Forces Subcomittee hearing as well as Gates' April 21st speech. As Mark Thompson (Time magazine) observed, "Gate's comments richoeted at supersonic speed around the Pentagon and across broader defense networks, as officers -- and contracters -- tried to parse their implications. His bottom line: The Air Force ought to be less concerned with buying more $350 million F-22 fighters for use in future wars that may never happen, and do more to deliver what is needed to fight the wars currently underway 'while their outcome may still be in doubt'." Gates was delivering his standard speech today with a few modifcations.
For instance there was Gates' insult to DC which goes beyond mere 'joke' when you grasp the 'think'-tanks target audience: "It is always good to be away from Washington, DC -- and of course the beauty of the Broadmoor and Colorado Springs make it especially difficult to go back to the place where many folks often become lost in thought because it's such unfamiliar territory." There was also his opinion that the outcome with Vietnam resulted in "profound damage" to the US military military as a result of "the reality of defeat in that war." Surely some revisionary historians are gasping for air having spent the last decades trying to rewrite the defeat. While Gates gave a little honesty about the Vietnam era (only a little) today, Senator Barack Obama gave a lot of lies by repeating right-wing garbage about Vietnam returns being "shunned, demonized and neglected". No, The Nation, The Progressive or any of the other filth that regularly promises to hold his feet to the fire (Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders) someday didn't find the comments worth calling out. But then, they never do, do they? And for the record, this is not the first (or second, or third) attack on the peace movement during Vietnam from Barack. We'll get into his politics more in the politics section.
In Baghdad the Sadr City cease-fire/truce is supposed to be the answer. Anna Badkhen (Christian Science Montior) reports on a problem when ever Iraqis flee their homes to escape fighting -- empty homes that they may or may not be able to reclaim. Badkhen reports that US Capt Andrew Betson states US policy is to allow squatters in the homes and the original inhabitants "basically have to stay displaced, they have to stay wherever they are" and turn the matter over to a local council to resolve. At Salon, Badkhen cites 1st Sgt. James Braet explaining how US monies are used: "In addition to distributing $2,400 micro-grants to businesses that want to reopen inside Saidiyah, and occasionally handing out goodies such as school backpacks and soccer balls to the neighborhood children, the U.S. military here pays a monthly salary of approximately $300 to about 300 people, Braet says. Some of them work on the neighborhood council, and some of them are members of a pro-government Sunni militia called Sons of Iraq" and quote Braet stating, "I'd say 80 percent of these people we pay don't do anything. It's just free money." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported over the weekend, "Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. In return, Sadr's Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government's agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in possession of 'medium and heavy weaponry'." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Representatives of Iraq's main Shiite Muslim factions signed a deal Monday clearing the way for Iraqi soldiers to operate throughout Sadr City, a vast Baghdad slum that is largely under the control of militiamen loyal to firebrand cleric Muqtada Sadr. The signatures put an official seal to a truce brokered over the weekend by Sadr's political representatives and members of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's governing alliance." But Selcan Hacaoglu (AP) notes the "fragile cease-fire failed to stop fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City where the latest clashes between Shiite extremists and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces killed 11 men and wounded 19, Iraqi hospital officials said Tuesday." CBS and AP explain, "It was not immediately clear if those killed in the clashes, which escalated early Tuesday, were militants or civilians. There were women and children among the wounded, said hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media." AFP reports that despite the cease-fire being signed "both sides said it will be Wednesday before they fully implement it on the ground." NPR's Ivan Watson (on Morning Edition today) reports on Sadr City and notes that the taxi driver is also a Mahdi fighter who declares, "We can survive the siege for a long time. If Moqtada Sadr gives us the order then we'll go, one by one, and pull the American soldiers from their tanks." Waleed Ibrahim and Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) report that not all are certain of al-Sadr's control/leadership and quotes Baghdad University professor Kadhum al-Muqdadi on the continued fighting, "It is clear that Sadr does not control all of the armed groups that make up the Mehdi Army. This fighting could last a long time." They also quote Sadr spokesperson Luwaa Sumaisem insisting, "Ceasefires cannot always be implemented immediately. Violations will happen in the first few days. Some armed groups may not be aware of it."
In other reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people, a US air strike claimed 5 lives and left four injured (cites Imam Ali Hospital), a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 5 Iraqi troops and a Kirkuk car bombing that injured ten people. Reuters notes a Mosul bombing that left two children injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Today (PDF format warning) the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in northwestern Baghdad at approximately 7 p.m. May 13." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war currently stands at 4077.
Turning to US politics . . .
Meanwhile AP reports: "The Bush administration repeatedly ignored corruption at the highest levels within the Iraqi government and kept secret potentially embarrassing information so as not to undermine its relationship with Baghdad, according to two former State Department employees. Arthur Brennan, who briefly served in Baghdad as head of the department's Office of Accountability and Transparency last year, and James Mattil, who worked as the chief of staff, told Senate Democrats on Monday that their office was understaffed and its warnings and recommendations ignored."
Let's go to MTV "News" where Gil Kaufman is a certifiable idiot. First he repeats Barack's claim that the US is "facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War." When he needs a fact, he just makes it up and his MOANING THAT HE'S WEARING BLUE JEANS press pack, is too STUPID to say, "Hey, how man troops did the US deploy to Vietnam?" Gil then decares that there is a "near-mathematical impossibility of her beating Obama for the nomination" -- what?????? Look, you're a reporter -- a bad one -- but a reporter. When you don't know what you're talking about, you 'research' it (make phone calls). Here's reality: neither Hillary or Barack will reach the magic number. Unless one of them drops out, this could go to the convention. If it does, there are no "pledged delegates." Super delegates can change their minds at any time. But, at the convention, pledged delegates make their own decisions. As Big Tent Democrat (TalkLeft) observes, it's probably not a good idea for Barack's campaign to be applauding a pledged delegate to Hillary (Jack B. Johnson) who states he'll "support Obama at the August convention."
Can Johnson, sent by the state (he's not a super delegate) to be a Hillary delegate, change his vote at the convention? Absolutely. And those of us who survived Miami in 1972 know very well that on the floor of the convention there are no promises. George McGovern himself proved that as he stabbed women OVER AND OVER in the back and sent out a woman to try to explain his betrayals and justify them. (Coward then, coward now: George McGovern. See Rebecca's "george mcgovern, start worrying about the after-life.") But Barack's campaign's applauding that. Good. Maybe it will make the press wake up to how STUPID they are. There is no winner. There will be no winner. There is a set number that the nominee has to reach. If no one reaches it and there's more than one standing, the issue is supposed to be resolved at the convention. Translation, NO ONE HAS A LOCK on the nomination. No one. Now those old enough to remember past Democratic nominations decided on the convention floor could explain that but the elders went AWOL in the party sometime ago, mouthing meaningless patter about 'movement.'
Christopher Hayes (The Nation, gets a link because he's a nice guy) can't understand why the media notes Barack's religion by stating he 'says he's a Christian.' Allow us to break it down for you. Thus far, mainstream journalists have attempted to locate Barack's baptismal record. Can't find it. And a number with the church when Barack started showing up there say (to the press) it's due to the fact that Barack wasn't baptised. What did he do May 4th? What he always does. On NBC's Meet The Press, he insisted he was "uh a Christian" and then went on to list what Wright had done for his family including baptizing Barack's children. But where was Barack's baptism. I know it's hard for a lot in Panhandle Media to grasp due to not being religious or not being part of a religion that requires baptism. However, Barack says he's a Christian and says he's a member of a church. The church and the faith requires those coming to the Lord to be baptiszed -- regardless of age. Those changing churches can simply have their baptismal records forwarded (the church secretary takes care of that). If someone's not grasping it, if Barack wasn't baptized -- and that is becoming the consensus in the press -- he's yet again misrepresented himself to the public. He can try to fix it by claiming, "Well, I came to God on my own." But he hasn't said that. He's stated he's a Christian and stated that a church was his church. Allowing people to believe he'd been baptized in that faith. If he never was, he misrepresented and that will be one of the kinder things said about him. And that is what will rally the religious right to the polls for John McCain in November. If you don't grasp that, you don't grasp religion. Here's Barack speaking to Tim Russert from Meet The Press' transcript (which leaves out the 'uh-uh's):
And, as a consequence, when Reverend Wright, who married me and baptized our, our children, when he made those statements, or I learned of those statements that I found so objectionable, I, I .
What's missing? Barack saying Wright baptized him. (Again, the press consensus is becoming that it never happened.) He doesn't mention it in either of his books. A grown man getting baptised, you'd assume he'd have an anecdote. This would be an issue in the general election if he got the nomination.
His former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is an unreconstructed '60s radical, a fire-breathing disciple of James Cone's period-piece black liberation theology. Mr. Obama wrote in his 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, about his attraction to the leftist pastor's church as a vehicle for social change. If black nationalism would uplift the race, he wrote, "then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence."
That's a remarkable admission of a racialized "ends justify the means" morality. It helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to stick with a crackpot like Dr. Wright. It also might explain why an up-and-coming Barack Obama found nothing particularly wrong with rubbing political elbows with Bill Ayers, the Chicago university professor and onetime fugitive member of the revolutionary, communist Weather Underground.
You can use the link to read the entire piece. If Barack wasn't baptised, the GOP attack will include that and it will effect voters (including some of Barack's core support because the word for many church goers -- of all races -- will be stronger than "fraud"). Meanwhile, Egalia (Tennessee Guerilla Women) notes, "So many women in the media have remained silent" during the non-stop sexist attacks on Hillary and post a clip of ABC's This Week where Cokie Roberts (who has called it out before during this election cycle) again pointed out the double standards. Marie Cocco (link goes to Real Clear Politics -- Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post) appears to write a burial for the Clinton campaign (it's not over, Marie) and finds her voice to speak out against some of the sexism (left out of the list are the writings at the website which reposts her for free). It's a greatest hits of the most obvious. Cocco notes: "I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't uttered a word of public outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York." Don't stop there, Marie. As we all know Laura Flanders has defended Laura Bush, Condi Rice and countless other GOP women in print and over the radio when they were attacked for or discriminated against due to gender. But the self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders couldn't call it out. And The Nation thought it was cute to print all those sexist attacks on Hillary, as did The Progressive, as did . . . The entire Panhandle Media. This will not be forgotten. And it's not hurting feminism, it only fuels greater strength.
And just as the sexism will not be forgotten, the campaign isn't over. Fernando Suarez (CBS News) quotes Hillary explaining, "West Virginia has a record of picking presidents. West Virginia made it possible for President Kennedy to become president of the United States. West Virginia in the general election votes for the winner and if West Virginia had voted for our Democratic nominee in 2000 and 2004 we wouldn't have had to put up with George Bush." Yesterday 41 former South Dakota state legislators and Constitutional Officiaers endorsed Hillary. I guess they didn't hear that the race was over? Or maybe they weren't foolish enough to believe the spin. The race isn't over. There are two candidates left in the Democratic primary and they are in a dead-heat. Neither will finish the race with enough pledged delegates to be declared the winner or to declare themselves the winner. And while the Obama Groupies run to a largely compliant press yelling "Shut it down!" the people want it to continue. The new ABC News - Washington Post poll finds 64% want the race to play out. Read Elaine's "Debates" in context of the poll and realize how badly Panhandle Media failed America by refusing to call out Barack's refusal to debate. Lindsay Levin (HillaryClinton.com) points out, "In the face of grim poll numbers, the Obama campaign has attempted to dismiss today's outcome despite the fact that Sen. Obama has outspent us on advertising, has more staff in the state, and more than double the number of offices. He has also benifted from the support of the most high-profile endorses in West Virginia -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Congressman Nick Rahall. By every measure, the Obama campaign has waged an aggressive campaign in the Mountain State. Despite being the so-called 'presumptive nominee' and benefiting from these advantages, Sen. Obama has been unable to close a significant gap in the polls. Sen. Clinton has already won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan. With a win in West Virginia, Sen. Clinton will have once again proven her greater ability to win in the key swing states." Lastly Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes how no matter what happens in the Obama campaign, "It's never my fault!" is the cry of Barack.